A Brief History of Thanksgiving (and Why It’s the “Hunter’s Holiday”)

“Our harvest being gotten in,” wrote the pilgrim Edward Winslow in 1621, describing that iconic inaugural Thanksgiving feast, “our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”

It has been the same ever since, across America. Get your work done. Head to the woods. Rejoice.

Granted, times have changed since that first Thanksgiving feast. Those early settlers would have traded a pile of deerskins for a rifled barrel, not to mention a bullet-drop-compensating scope purged with nitrogen. Yet with everything that has changed, a few things haven’t: The fact that hunters can walk the woods. The fact that there are still woods to walk in. The fact that we can walk out of those woods with a harvest and rejoice with our families. Worthy of thanks, all of that.

Now, on to the glorious gluttony that has marked this day across the centuries. We’ve gathered together three delicious recipes using three of our nation’s most heralded game species: wild turkey, whitetail deer, and mallard.

So step away from the brandied cranberries. I have some rejoicing to do.